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X-Card

Published: Sunday, 08 December 2019

What is the X-Card?

It is a non-mandatory tool created by John Stavropoulos to give a player (or the GM) an option to take out of the game a problematic element. It is a sort of joker for the eventuality of roleplaying improvisation getting to a point that makes someone uneasy.

 

How does it work?

Reasons to use the X-Card are multiple and always valid. Here are some examples:

  • Pierre's parents are in the middle of a divorce because of a not so discreet extra-conjugal adventure. When the GM says that a NPC is caught in the act of adultery, Pierre uses the X-Card because he wants to have fun and not to think of his delicate family situation.
  • Fatima's sister just made her coming-out. AT the start of the game, one of the players at the table says that they want to play their character as a caricature of an intolerant homophobic. Fatima is not yet ready to laugh about this, so she uses the X-Card.
  • Xurgl is pathologically arachnophobic. When the players enter a cave full of giant spiders and the GM shows a very realistic picture of the monsters, Xurgl puts his tentacle on the X-Card because he wants to have fun, not to have an anxiety attack.

Do note that, while we give a context in our exemples, it is not necessary to always do so. You can very well just use the card by saying "let us not talk about [this subject]" and count on the rest of the table's manners to change the subject.

 

Is it really necessary?

We believe so. Even if the X-Card is never used, its presence on the table is a good reminder that we are among civilised people and that we can count on each other's understanding, no matter how many hands they have.

The X-Card is particullarily usefull in convention, because you will end up playing with people who do not know you and your sensitivities. Take Alex, for exemple, who's been in a car crash and has terrible flashbacks about it. Alex's usual team knows this and tacitly avoids the subject since they have played a part of the campaign in Alex's hospital room. But another team during a convention has no way to know of the accident and Alex might have to use the X-Card.

 

How to introduce it to the table?

It is advised for GMs to talk about the X-Card at the begining of the game (if need be, they can get inspiration on Orc'idée's amazing wepage). If the GM does not do so, but a player doess, it has absolutely no impact on the use of the card. It is merely a proof that RPG is a collective game and that GMs can't always think of everything.

here is an example of a way to introduce the card to the table: "You choose to play my game, and I'm very grateful for this. However, I'm also a bit afraid that you might secretely have horrible ideas within you. This is why I'm putting this X-Card on the table. If you say something that makes me uneasy, I'll use it as a joker to cancel that. All the same, you can use it to cancel my ideas or that of another player. Just know that it is not a tool to change wonderful the scenario I've cooked up for you, but just to adapt it slightly if some themes are touchy for you. I really hope we won't need it, but even if we do, I know that it won't impact how much fun we're having."

 

Notes

  • Shiny free X-Cards can be found at the convention's reception.

  • To learn more about this tool, please visit John Starvopoulos' original page. This one is simply a free adaptation of it, made by Audrée, Thalie and Stéph from Orc'idée's committee.